Secondary Suites

A secondary suite is a separate living space created within a property originally designed to accommodate a single family. It is a private, self-contained unit that can take a number of forms including basement apartments, in-law suites, garden suites, and above-garage laneway units.

A secondary suite has its own bathroom, kitchen, living, and sleeping areas, but can share a number of features with the rest of the house. Shared facilities may include a yard, parking area, laundry and storage space, and sometimes a hallway.

Most Recent update:

On March 12, 2018 City Council, approved amendments to the Land Use Bylaw that allows secondary suites as discretionary use within R-1, R-C1, and R-C1L land use districts. Applicants can now apply for a development permit as the first step in building a secondary suite in these land use districts. The development permit fee for all new secondary suite applications is being waived until June 1, 2020. Please see the summary of changes below:

    • all stand-alone houses can now apply for a secondary suite or backyard/laneway housing with only a development permit
    • The community association and each of the neighbors directly on either side of the applicant’s property will be circulated the submission and will have three weeks to make comments. A notice posting will also be posted on the property for more information. If the application is successful, it will also be subject to appeal at the Subdivision and Development and Appeal Board.
    • There will be an amnesty period on most fees for two years, after which there will be fees to both register a suite and to apply for a Development Permit. Building, Electrical, Plumbing, and Gas Permits still apply.
    • The existing suite registry will be mandatory. This means that all legal suites will be listed online at There is no plan to monitor the legal suites once registered.
    • Illegal suites will be addressed through a complaints-based system.

Council directed Administration to return with standards relating to the design of backyard suites across all districts before the end of 2018. Backyard suites applications in R-1, R-C1 and R-C1L land use districts will not be accepted until the standards are approved by Council

Important Dates Regarding Secondary Suites